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Old unproven claim of ‘8,300 super-rich Kenyans’ not from ‘new’ Oxfam report

This article is more than 5 years old

Kenya’s Business Daily published a story about the widening gap between the country’s rich and poor. It came against the backdrop of a January 2019 report on global equality by British charity Oxfam.

The newspaper said Oxfam’s report showed that “a paltry” 8,300 super-rich Kenyans owned the bulk of the country’s wealth. The paper’s report was posted on Facebook where other pages picked it up.

Readers asked Africa Check to check if this was the case.

The story’s author told us the data came from this undated article on Oxfam’s website. In December 2017 the charity released a report that made the same claim. But Oxfam’s January 2019 report does not include the claim.

Africa Check previously reviewed the claim and found no data to either prove or disprove it. The number was from a proprietary report by private consultancy New World Wealth. The Johannesburg-based firm said the figure was calculated from its confidential database of private wealth.

The claim was repeated in April 2018 by British think tank Chatham House, which estimated Kenya’s population at 48 million people.

Not granted access to private database

New World Wealth did not grant us access to the database. Without seeing the wealth data and methodology, experts we spoke to said that it would be difficult to vet this claim.

One expert said that while his team did not have enough direct wealth data for Kenya, they had used models to estimate the distribution of wealth in 39 countries where there was sufficient data.

In 37 of these, the richest 1% of the population owned less than 50% of the country’s wealth.

“If the same were true in Kenya, the top 480,000 [using Chatham’s population estimate] would have less than half the total wealth. In that case, the top 8,300 could not have more than half of the total wealth.” – Alphonce Shiundu (30/01/19)


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